Are you struggling with moss in the lawn?

We know, it’s unsatisfying and annoying, to say the least. But don’t worry, as there are various remedial solutions that you can apply in order to restore the uniform texture and green look of your turf.

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So, if you:

  • Are having issues with moss on your lawn;
  • Are looking for the different ways of getting rid of moss;
  • Want to know how to prevent it from appearing again,

Then read on, because this post is just for you!

What is moss?

Mosses belong to the Bryophyta division – a type of classification of plants, which don’t produce flowers. They usually thrive in damp, shady and acidic-soil conditions, with some exceptions, and reproduce through spores.

On that note, some types grow in lime, alkaline or very dry acid soils. There are more than 12 000 species, but British garden lovers usually have to deal with just a few common types of the tuft-forming plant.

For instance, the fern-like species Eurhynchium and Hypnum can be quite troublesome and cause issues on many types of turfs. These mosses trail among the grass blades on moist soils, creating a spongy mat on your lawn.

What does moss look like?

Depending on their variety, mosses can be dark green, light green, blue-green or yellowish-green in colour and more. They can grow loose in between the grass stems, giving you that springy feel when walking over your lawn. Or, the plant can look like a thick, dense mat, formed by clumped-together, solid-looking but soft tufts of green growth.

Often, mosses are confused with other non-vascular plants like hornworts and liverworts, as well as lichens, which are composite organisms from the symbiosis between different fungi and algae.

What causes moss in the lawn?

There are various causes for moss on grass. This may be a temporary problem, a permanent feature on your turfed area or a seasonal “characteristic” of your lawn, say, when winter moss (Ceratodon purpureus) appears every year on your grassed plot, for instance.

Below, we list the most common reasons for moss in a lawn that could be spoiling your turf:

  • General lawn maintenance neglect
  • Patchy lawn with bare spots
  • Soil compaction
  • Wet/waterlogged soils with drainage issues
  • Too much shade from trees, shrubs and buildings
  • Seasonal changes and weather conditions
  • Scalping/cutting the grass too low
  • Poor soil nutrient status
  • Scarcely growing lawn grass
  • Overly acidic dry soil
  • Diseased/insect-infested turf

When should you remove moss

There are different opinions on when to get rid of moss, but based on our expertise, you’re most likely going to succeed in this quest in the spring or autumn.

As moss spores, in the UK, in April and September, the general advice is to try to remove it before the plant starts to reproduce and spread. Furthermore, physical moss elimination methods cause some degree of stress to your turf. So, in relation to this, getting rid of the unwanted plant in early spring and autumn gives the lawn a better chance to recover.

During the onset of spring, the grass is yet to prepare for the growing season and if you remove moss from a lawn in the autumn, the turf has plenty of time to “recuperate”, repair itself and get stronger in the forthcoming winter.

Note that your lawn needs plenty of moisture and relatively mild weather in order to mend itself with the help of fertiliser. Hence, summer and winter, when the temperatures could be too high or too low, and rainfalls are somewhat scarce, is the time deemed unsuitable for getting rid of moss.

How to get rid of lawn moss

Getting rid of lawn moss is possible if you have some patience and knowledge. Most importantly, once you determine the likely reasons for the moss invasion on your turf and the extent of the issue, you’ll be able to make a decision on the right approach.

There are some effective physical methods and general lawn maintenance techniques, as well as widespread chemical moss control or DIY solutions. They are suitable for moss problems, both small or gone a bit out of hand. You can apply a combination of moss elimination and prevention methods at the same time.

Natural control

The following cultivar methods are proven to eradicate moss in the lawn.

Scarify the lawn

Scarification involves physically removing moss, thatch build-up and weeds with a tool. Depending on the size of your lawn, you can use a rake, a manual/walk-behind scarifier or a petrol/electric scarifier.

If you use a powered scarifier, make sure to cut the grass first, before you proceed with raking out the moss build-up. Also, note that the soil should be moist – not too dry and not too wet.

If you decide to apply a moss killing agent beforehand, ensure that you give it enough time to work, as recommended on the product label instructions, before scarifying your turf. Remember that you can hire a combo type of equipment that, with the appropriate attachments, becomes a lawnmower, a scarifier or an aerator.

Use a moss burner blowtorch

Another non-chemical way of removing the undesired plant is applying an easy moss spot-killing method by using a burner blowtorch. However, the technique is only suitable for small moss build-ups that have appeared here and there on your lawn. Pay heed not to damage the surrounding grass and repair the bare patch with some grass seeds.

Overseed

Overseeding is a versatile way of maintaining the health of your turfed area. You can resort to it if the grass is growing thin all over or apply it as an effective method of fixing a patchy lawn.

And, of course, overseeding the bare spot once the moss has been removed will help you prevent it from coming back. Just make sure to add some compost over the area and evenly sprinkle on top and mix in your grass seed material.

Remove trees and branches

Pruning branches that cast shade over the moss-infested area will make the removal task more successful. If need be, you may have to consider felling the tree altogether to deter the moss plant from emerging again. However, you’ll still need to make the effort of physically removing the tufts of matted growth.

Also, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate whether you’ve got the most suitable type of grass growing on your lawn. After all, if the area suffers from limited sunlight exposure, consider sowing shade-tolerant grass or laying turf that thrives in predominantly shady gardens.

Improve lawn vigour

You can probably guess that proper lawn care will minimise the risk of moss in the lawn or weeds overtaking the grass. So, make sure that you don’t neglect regular lawn maintenance jobs and, most importantly, don’t complete them at the wrong time of the year.

In other words, feed, irrigate, aerate and topdress the turfed area correctly to avoid poor soil nutrient conditions, waterlogging/drying out, soil compaction and drainage issues.

Improve soil texture and its nutrient status by mixing in organic matter in spring and autumn. Test the pH of your soil and adjust it accordingly if need be, especially considering that most moss varieties prefer acidic soils.

Chemical control

Sometimes, chemical methods need to be applied, if the moss in your lawn covers large areas. You can use a moss-killing product (ferrous sulphate) alone or apply a combo treatment that contains a fertilising agent, as well. This way, you can still rake the blackened moss and rest assured that grass health will be enhanced. Again, spring and autumn is the best time to spray your grassed plot with a moss killer.

Кeeping moss away – expert tips

To keep lawn moss at bay, you should apply good grass maintenance practices, which also act as preventative measures. Although we’ve already mentioned some, let’s see what they are in more detail!

  • Cut the grass regularly.
    Regular lawn mowing at the right setting will ensure that the grass grows strong and thick, giving moss no chance to establish.
  • Increase the hours of sunlight.
    As we’ve explained, moss flourishes in shade. So, try to estimate how many hours a day your lawn gets exposed to direct sunlight. And, if needed, remove woody plants or trim off several branches.
  • Relieve soil compaction.
    Your lawn’s health will be affected if the soil is not aerated once or twice a year. Once grass becomes weak and thin due to compacted soil around its roots, this will encourage thatch, weeds and moss to overtake your turf.
  • Improve drainage and water with care.
    Most common types of lawn moss thrive well in damp soils, with some exceptions. So, never overwater your lawn and make sure that the soil doesn’t suffer from drainage issues by improving its texture with sand and organic matter.
  • Address pest infestations and fungal problems.
    Again, if some creepy crawlies are damaging the roots of the grass or the turf suffers from some sort of disease, this will lead to the overall poor health of your lawn and promote the appearance of moss and weeds.
  • Fertilise at least once a year.
    Feed your lawn in the autumn or spring (or both), again, to ensure the vigorous and lush growth of grass instead of weeds, dandelions and moss.

Dispose of moss the right way

Did you know that you can add the raked-out moss to your compost bin and reap all the benefits the following year? After all, one of moss’ commercial uses is the production of peat, especially out of species from the Sphagnum genus. Preferably, mix the moss with other organic matter in the proportion of 1:4 to ensure that it doesn’t take too long to decompose properly.

And if you wish to consult with an expert on lawn maintenance or get help with the care of your turf, you can always contact Fantastic Services!

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Takeaways

To summarise what we’ve learned, here are our final thoughts on getting rid of lawn moss and how to prevent it from coming back:

  • Lawn moss is best removed in the autumn or spring.
  • Winter moss will die naturally in the spring, but it’s still best raked out.
  • Moss can be a problem on artificial turf, too. Use only special chemical agents to kill it.
  • General lawn care on a regular basis is the ideal way to prevent moss from establishing on your lawn.
  • With care, you can apply a homemade moss killer by using baking soda or dish soap, diluted in water.
  • Did you know that moss can be a good thing if your garden has issues with erosion?
  • Not all types of moss grow in damp and acidic-soil conditions. So, determine what kind of plant you’re dealing with, in order to remedy the problem effectively.

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Did you find our post helpful? Do you have your own tips on removing moss from lawns? Then, please, use the comment space below and share your advice with our avid readers!

Header image source: Shutterstock / By stephen chatterton

  • Last update: April 15, 2020

Posted in All About the Lawn, Garden Advice

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